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MailTribune.com
  • GOLF

    Bandon land swap takes the next step

  • COOS BAY — Bandon State Natural Area is readying for comments on a land trade deal with Bandon Biota, a corporation owned by golf course developer Mike Keiser, officials said.
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    • BANDON LAND SWAP
      The state Parks and Recreation Commission will meet for an executive session to discuss a potential land swap with Bandon Biota at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday at The Mill Casino-Hotel in North Bend. That ...
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      BANDON LAND SWAP
      The state Parks and Recreation Commission will meet for an executive session to discuss a potential land swap with Bandon Biota at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday at The Mill Casino-Hotel in North Bend. That session is closed to the public. The commission will return to the Mill at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday to hear public comments. Comments may also be sent by email to OPRD.publiccomment@state.or.us.
  • COOS BAY — Bandon State Natural Area is readying for comments on a land trade deal with Bandon Biota, a corporation owned by golf course developer Mike Keiser, officials said.
    Two-hundred-eighty acres of property between Bradley and Laurel lakes near U.S. Highway 101 south of Bandon would be traded to the corporation.
    Bandon Biota intends to develop a low-cost 27-hole walking-only golf course on the property. In exchange, the company would pay at least $300,000 for gorse control on nearby state park properties, transfer two land parcels near Bandon — approximately 97 riverfront acres that would be added to Bullards Beach State Park on the Coquille River and 111 acres of oceanfront land at the south end of Bandon State Natural Area — and pay as much as $2.95 million to help purchase two other properties: oceanfront property in Lincoln County known as Whale Cove, and 6,100 acres of forest, prairie and riparian bottom lands in Grant County for use as a future state park.
    Chris Havel of the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department said the deal — initiated by Bandon Biota in 2010 — would greatly improve the state park land and help save the department some money. When the proposal was introduced to the public for comment in July 2011 at a meeting in Bandon, it received stiff and vocal opposition. Since then, there have been some modifications to the proposal.
    "Through perseverance we've reached the point we're at today," Havel said. "Both sides worked hard to come up with a solution."
    A trade-off of this sort is rare, Havel said. According to law, trades must have an "overwhelming benefit to the public," which is hard to attain, Havel said.
    "Exchanges between state and county are more common than this sort of deal," Havel said. "Only the commission can decide to go forward with this deal."
    Keiser's plan for the property is to build a public golf course with low fees for local and Oregon residents, in part to attract more in-state tourism to the Bandon area. Company officials say they recognize the cost of playing the existing Bandon Dunes courses — up to $280 a round for its four main courses — is a deterrent to many golfers.
    The earliest a final decision would be made is September, Havel said, after all public comments have been heard.
    Cameron La Follette, land use director with Oregon Coast Alliance, said she doesn't think the exchange is a good idea.
    "We have a lot of concerns about the proposal," La Follette said. "How are the parks going to be affected by this proposal?"
    She claims Keiser has enough land to build another golf course without acquiring the established park area, and he'd essentially be trading one area for another.
    "We don't want to rob Peter to feed Paul," La Follette said.
    Bob Johnson, Keiser's real estate agent, said his client doesn't have enough land to build another golf course or they wouldn't have approached the parks four years ago. Johnson, who lives in Ashland, also said he was relieved to finally have an agreement with the parks.
    "It's been a very long process. I'm glad we reached the stage it has," Johnson said. "We've met and exceeded the expectations of the parks department."
    Johnson said he was "cautiously optimistic."
    "There are people who believe we shouldn't build any more golf courses in the area," Johnson said. "Mike is making an extraordinary offer."
    Bandon Western World reporter Emily Thornton can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 249, or Emily.Thornton@theworldlink.com.
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